Martin Johnson enjoying 'addictive' England job

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The Independent Online

Martin Johnson has given the strongest indication yet that he would like to continue in the "addictive" job of England manager beyond the end of this year's Rugby World Cup.

Johnson's current contract - and that of England attack coach Brian Smith - expires at the end of December.



The Rugby Football Union do not see any need to instigate talks about a renewal until after the tournament in New Zealand, a position Johnson says he is happy with.



But Johnson relished his involvement in England's RBS 6 Nations title success and today pointed for the first time towards a longer-term future at the helm.



Asked if he would still like to be England manager this time next year, Johnson said: "Yes. It is a very addictive job in that way, even the stress and disappointment.



"Yesterday is always the worst day of the year in a way because you have been in a long tournament and then you are sitting there with no players to deal with.



"It is a very good group to be around. When you get that time together and that continuity and the success, that is what you do it for.



"I say to the players 'it is okay to want to play for England but to win for England is what you really want to do'.



"It is a good environment at the moment but we have to keep on working for that."



England's Grand Slam bid came to a crushing halt against Ireland in Dublin but Johnson is excited by what the future has in store for his young squad.



Johnson has not always felt that way. Eighteen months ago, England were weighed down by injuries and had to drag their way through a tough autumn campaign.



"That was crisis management really," Johnson reflected.



"When you remember where we were, this Six Nations was fantastic.



"You can't manufacture the experience they have all got from this tournament and to come out on top from what we said would be a very close tournament has been a heck of a job by our team.



"When you have a young squad it is very exciting, it is very new and you are making relatively big steps all the time so it is certainly an exciting group to be about.



"There have been some very big games in the championship and they have handled themselves relatively well.



"I have no doubt we will all come through last weekend better for it. They are smart enough and savvy enough to be better.



"We were playing for the Grand Slam, remember, not the wooden spoon. We did walk out with the trophy.



"With the squad we have it will only get better and significantly better because if their age and personality."



The RFU's elite rugby director Rob Andrew will lose direct responsibility for England's elite teams in the coming months having delivered a Six Nations title and an Under-20s Grand Slam.



Andrew is in line for a new role as operations director after his current, more wide-ranging position, was made redundant in a structural reshuffle at Twickenham.



The former England fly-half believes he will leave a strong legacy for the new performance director, a position linked heavily with Sir Clive Woodward.



Alex Corbisiero and Tom Wood made impressive international debuts during the Six Nations and 13 of England's 22-man squad in Dublin on Saturday were 25 or under.



"It has been an extraordinary 12 months for this group of players to get where they have, notwithstanding the defeat to Ireland on Saturday," said Andrew.



"We have all been in Grand Slam deciders and lost them, that happens. This team have now had the experience of losing a Grand Slam decider and it will hurt them but it will make them stronger.



"If you had said this time last year we would win away in the southern hemisphere for the first time since 2003, have our biggest win ever against Australia at Twickenham and win the Six Nations in a World Cup year with a lot of young players we'd have all said that would be very, very good.



"The process of development is very strong. We won the Under-20 Grand Slam on Friday and we have a tremendous crop of young players coming through the system.



"Johnno is trying to turn them into hardened internationals who can win matches at the highest level."



Andrew's proposed new role will incorporate managing the RFU's complex agreements with Premiership Rugby, which have been the foundation for England's success.



"It took us 18 months to agree (a deal with the clubs). We are now two years into it and we are beginning to see the benefits of it," Andrew said.



"The amount of time the England team get together is probably one of the most important things in the agreement.



"And in amongst all that you have to underpin it with English qualified players who get to play every week in the Premiership in order for them to come through.



"That was a problem four and a half years ago. We now have more English qualified players than we have ever had in the Premiership and the academies are in place.



"That is how it should be and that has been the driving force behind everything I have tried to do over the last four and a half years."



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